Chernobyl – A tourist attraction

If you are looking for a good holiday, tourists may soon be able to vist the sealed area around the Chernobyl nuclear plant which is the site of the worlds worst nuclear accident. Ukraine’s government wants to turn the Chernobyl nuclear plant into a tourist hot-spot.

Ukraine’s Emergency Ministry says the zone will be open next year for those who wish to learn more about how the nuclear tragedy happened 24 years ago; the reactor exploded, spewing radiation over much of Northern Europe.

Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Ministry said on Monday – it is working on a plan to open the area around the defunct plant—where a reactor exploded on April 26, 1986, spreading radiation across the then-Soviet states of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia—to visitors starting next month.

According to RIA-Novosti, the “[Emergencies] ministry was carrying out a large amount of work and planned to report on its results by the end of the year so that visits to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster site, so far referred to as extreme tourism, ‘should become systematic in January.'”

Simon Calder the travel writer added his thoughts on the Radio 4 Today Programme: click here for the original audio version

I had a friend who actually went to Chernobyl for a holiday, I don’t think he can have gone to the reactor itself, but he went to the deserted area around it and and he said it was fascinating. It was probably 10 years ago.

Yes, its already on the backpacker circuit and there is a tour going off on Saturday morning at 9.00am  from Kiev the capital of the Ukraine which is only sixty miles away and they will take you into the 30 kilometre exclusion zone to reactor No 4 – the one that exploded. They will bring in your lunch too – they make it absolutely clear that this comes from outside the radiation zone! The highlight is to take you to the Ghost Town.
It’s not dangerous?

Well you do get a raditation check when you leave to check what you have picked up, – there’s 150 tonnes of nuclear material encased in steel and concrete in the reactor.

You haven’t been tempted to do this yourself?

Oh yes, absolutely, I was in Kiev recently and I was snowed in and we couldn’t get there. The Ukraine has a big problem – it’s a vast and beautiful country and officially it’s one of the most wonderful places on earth – according to the Ukrainian Health Resorts and Tourism Department!. We don’t know much about the great cities of Kiev and Odessa – the public might have heard of the Crimea and they will certainly will have heard of Chernobyl –  so you have to capitalise on what you know and promote that. It’s a fascinating tour – tragedy plus time, and it doesn’t really take much time before a site of tremendous human tragedy becomes an attraction.